Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

It’s been long time

I once read an article where the author admonished bloggers for blogging faux pas. Too many photos. Lack of photos. Too much text. Not enough bullets. The author’s list was pretty extensive. Well, readers, I’ve broken one of that author’s rules and I’m about to break another — 1) posting infrequently or on an unpredictable schedule and 2) apologizing for infrequent posting.

So, dear readers, I apologize. I’ve been gone for a very long time. Eight months, if not more. There was only one other time when I fell silent — from February 2012 until a few posts in March 2013 about a trip to Raleigh, N.C.

Both then and now have very similar themes — I lost a dear loved one and needed a break from activities and responsibilities that did not need my energy or attention. I guess you can call it a time of reflection and evaluation. I needed to focus on living without the worry of additional responsibilities. Blogging was certainly not a necessity. It’s a hobby. It doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t help with my education or research. So it took a back seat. I set it aside.

The first extended blog hiatus occurred soon after my grandfather passed away. I grieved for several months and it took a long time before I felt like writing again. Looking back over the blog, I realized how much I enjoyed it and turned back to snapping photos and writing. I enjoy creating and traveling and sharing those experiences with you.

This time, our sweet puppy, Sydney, passed away last May. She was nearly 15 and had been struggling with illness for the past year. Chris and I made the difficult decision of letting her go. She had continued to lose weight at a rapid pace, and she had been on lots of antibiotics for the last month of her life.

Imaging showed she was losing bone mass in a back leg; the same one that had been swollen and painful for months. We never discovered the cause of the infection or the reason for her weight or bone loss. It was time and we didn’t want to expose her to more poking and prodding than she’d already experienced for the past several months.

So, I took a break for blogging again. Only, this time, I debated whether or not to even continue the blog. I would still leave the site up, but I didn’t, and still don’t know, if I would continue writing. Sydney has been a central part of Chris and my life, as you can certainly see from the many trips posted under the Small Travels and Musings section where she is spotlighted in many photos. It will seem odd to travel without our furry “dog”her.

I’ll continue to think about this and may continue to post from once in awhile. Bear with me, dear readers, as I decide what I’m going to do.


One course down

I’ve survived my first medical school course! It was really hard to push through the past few weeks, but I did it.

I am amazed at the amount of information I’ve gleaned in the first 3 months. It’s also humbling to see how little this knowledge makes a dent into the medical information needed to pass board exams in the coming years.

It’s impossible, of course, to know everything. That’ll always will be the case. It’s more important to know where to find information and know when and where to refer patients when we’re faced with an obstacle we can’t solve on our own.

The hardest part of this first course was knowing how to balance time. Time to study. Time for family. Time for cooking, cleaning, paying bills and all the other normal activities we need to do. Notice I didn’t even mention making time for myself. That’s something I’m working on. It seemed nearly impossible to do the things I needed to do without thinking of doing things I wanted to do.

I know there are classmates and colleagues that have found ways to fit in their Me Time. I’ve been reading and listening and trying to figure out ways to incorporate their ideas and others into my own routine. Except those a classmate who said she’s able to take one full day off from studying. I think she has a superwoman cape hidden in her closet.

The highlights from the first few months:

  • Finding heartbeats during ob visits. Very thrilling!
  • Taking patient histories, both simulated and real. Under guidance and supervision, of course.
  • Hearing my first heart murmur. Thanks, Dr. S.!

Next week starts a new course. This week was a much needed break for my classmates and I. I hope everyone got the rest they needed and are ready for Monday!

Settling in

We officially moved into our new home last weekend. I’ve been rearranging things, unpacking and generally settling into our new space. Chris didn’t begin his new job until Wednesday so he was around the first part of the week to help.

This weekend we’re adding shelves and a light to a basement closet, adding drainage pipes to our gutters, hanging pictures and setting out decorations. We hope to spend some time exploring more of our new neighborhood before another long work week begins Monday.

Things from this week:

  • We saw DeSales High School 2014 graduates walking down Kenwood Drive to Iroquois Park, presumably for their graduation. Many people cheered and honked car horns as police vehicles escorted the seniors across roads and side streets.
  • I’ve got my library card! The librarian, who registered me, is pretty darn cool. All the libraries in the city are linked so you can order a book and have it shipped to your home branch. Then you can drop the book off at any city library. No need to have it sent back to the branch you checked it out from.
  • Kentucky requires you to visit two different offices to get your driver’s license and tags. To receive the tags, the sheriff’s office has to inspect your car.
  • Like North Carolina, if you’re not registered with one of the two major political parties you don’t get to vote in primaries. I like Virginia’s system better. You get to vote in either primary no matter how you’re registered. That’s great for when the real race is the primary. Oftentimes the only contenders are from the same party.
  • In some large cities, residents and employees have to pay income taxes to the municipality.
  • Fences can be a source of tremendous stress. If people would be true to their word, life would be much more pleasant.

I start a summer program June 30. That’s six weeks to get into a routine here at home and to finish getting things organized and into place. Classes begin Aug. 4. I need to pick up some school supplies before then — a required iPad, a study table or desk, etc. The remaining tools will be bought during orientation the last week of July .

Thanks, Nicole, for the thoughtful gift!

I spent a lovely lunch with former coworkers last week. It was an opportunity to catch up with people I haven’t seen in awhile, and I’m glad I asked my former boss to organize it. It was such a joy!

My friend, Nicole, brought me this:

A thoughtful gift from a dear friend.

A thoughtful gift from a dear friend.

Each book has a special meaning attached to it.

Little Women — I remind my friend of Jo March. Nicole told me this once a long time ago, though I’d forgotten. I have an old copy of Little Women, published in the late 1800s or early 1900s. I’ve read it at least five times. I think it’s about time to read it again.

Persuasion — Nicole’s favorite book. I’ve never read it, so I’m looking forward to it.

The Great Gatsby — Another favorite of Nicole’s.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and It’s all Small Stuff — I’ve heard of this book, of course, but have never read it. Nicole thought it would be useful.

And, most importantly, a Starbucks gift card! I’m sure I’ll burn through it quickly when classes start this summer.

Thanks, Nicole! I appreciate such a thoughtful gift.

Quick update

Hi! Just a quick update. The last couple of weeks have been keeping me on my toes. Most of last week was spent painting rooms in the new house. All that is left is some cleaning of the floors and we’ll be ready to move in. I’m blessed to have great in-laws who’ve spent days helping us get it ready for us. This week has involved a lot of packing, phone calls and donating books and other items that didn’t sell at a yard sale we held this past weekend. The Final Move Date will be a lot sooner than expected.

Last week also brought along with it some unexpected and sad news. My mom’s 42-year-old boss passed away of a heart attack. I attended the funeral with several of my family members last Thursday. The man leaves behind two young kids, a significant other, parents, brothers and many other loved ones and friends.

I spent most of the following week in disbelief and shock. I’ve known him 22 years and he’s not much older than I. It’s just hard to imagine he’s really gone. I also spent a lot of time thinking how life is so fragile and fleeting. Our bodies are miraculous and can show amazing strength, but, at the same, time our life is so fragile.

Among the rabbi’s stories of our friend’s generosity and caring spirit, the assembly recited Psalm 23. I couldn’t do it. I would have started bawling if I did. I’ll end this post with it. Until next week:

Psalm 23 (ESV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table for me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We’re all in this boat together

Today is the second anniversary of PawPaw’s funeral. I read this quote at his funeral:

“I encourage the adult children to keep the big picture in mind: that these are the people on your boat; these are the people with whom you are granted the privilege of traveling across the ocean of life. All you have is each other. It is not just a burden but also a joy to help those we love. It is our chance to stay connected, to return love, and to grow ourselves. Of course there are times when helping is not convenient or easy. There are unpleasant and painful times. But few people regret their choice to help. We care for the old because it is good for them, and for us.”

It’s from Mary Pipher’s Another Country. I think it’s a beautiful sentiment about life, and something we should remember about our older folks as well as each other.